“Vimal, 33, Black Belt. Tell me a joke. Quick”

People say the initial stages of a relationship are the best, ’cause that’s when you learn things about your partner and become familiar with their quirks and habits. I would rather skip the whole “getting to know” section and get to the “you’re quiet, let me not disturb you” part. I feel preliminary introductions are really tiresome and in some cases a waste of time (when the relationship goes nowhere).

I was thinking the other day that people should start wearing stickers on their foreheads to describe things about themselves. You know, just so people don’t get into unnecessary awkward situations in public. So, we could have forehead stickers that state our sexual orientation since that is something many of us are curious about. We could have stickers to show if we’re married or looking. Even stickers to show our moods, like “unintentionally stressed out because of abrupt ending on favorite serial,” or “might be interested in hearing knock knock jokes,” or the random “looking for signs of life.” We could get so creative.

The intent would be to make communicating with people easier. Like those mood rings which change color according to body heat. Instead, here the message would be clear to anyone who can read. If you’re somewhere where people can’t read you’re on your own. I think my sticker would state “not present” most of the time. I’m like that, see, just floating on through life on my invisible cloud of self-satisfaction, oblivious of the world falling apart around me. It’s not a crime, so leave me alone.

So many of our problems could be avoided if we did this.

Coming back to modern relationships. If such a thing even exists, ’cause most of us can very well be on our own even when we’re “with” someone. By the way, I’m using double quotes with the hopes that you make the air quotes gesture when reading those words. Just for effect. Also, pause for an instant before reading the word within quotes, you’ll be amazed. How does one retain a positive attitude toward finding “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Wrong,” which ever floats your boat, when the definitions of right and wrong have been turned on their head? We have men who want to be in “open” relationships, so they don’t feel trapped or emasculated. haha. We have women who are looking for men who dress well, work out, constantly strive to improve themselves, have dreams they wanna achieve, are kind, love kids, are funny, are good-looking, are chivalrous, are sensitive, etc. See, both sides have high expectations, which neither party can live up to. And that’s just the start.

So almost any eligible partner would have something that doesn’t rub you the right way and unlike a half century ago when couples just stuck it out for the sake of the kids and other “parampara” reasons, these days we just sign a piece of paper and find someone else to torture. Okay, I don’t mean torture literally in the physical sense. I mean, psychologically and emotionally. Now, I am not going to try and pontificate on the state of today’s generation or dish out advice on how we might “be the change we wanna see.” That’s a fool’s errand. What I’d like you to take from this is to realize the playing field has changed. Relationships are no longer the focus of human interaction, self-improvement and social development are. We don’t just want true love. No, we want the penthouse, the company car, the separate work cell phone, the managerial post, the club membership, the frequent flier privilege card… the list goes on and on, and on. Our focus has shifted from the sensual to the superficial. We know in our hearts that we would be more satisfied without the endless pursuits society has attuned us to, but the alternative seems too “crazy” to comprehend. We would rather play the cards we have been dealt than take the risk of being different.

It’s not easy, there is a lot we’d have to give up, and we might not get anything in return. Except maybe ourselves. Presently, my sticker would read “soul-searching,” what about yours?

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